How long does it take to build a Skoolie? (the process)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How long does it take to build a Skoolie? We will describe the process of converting a school bus into a Skoolie, and give you details about the methods itself, the necessary equipment, the price and the pros and cons of building a Skoolie. 

How long does it take to build a Skoolie?

Building a Skoolie can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your level of training, the time you have, whether you will have help or not, and of course, your resources.

Building a Skoolie (simplified)

Several steps must be taken successfully before obtaining a vehicle totally transformed into a motorhome.

  1. Disassembly: After the acquisition, the first step is to dismantle the interior of the vehicle. Exit the seats, only those necessary are kept. Depending on the vehicle, the other interior components are also removed: luggage racks, handrails, etc.
  1. Renovation: During their transformation, it is often necessary to renovate the vehicle, both mechanically and in terms of the bodywork. Smoky engine, rusty bodywork, these obstacles do not discourage the adventurers of transformation.
  1. Installation: Insulation, heating, partitioning, installation of sanitary facilities, fitting out of a bathroom, a kitchen, laying of beds, water management (clean / dirty), electrical connections …: the fitting out requires knowledge in many trades. These arrangements must meet certain standards for the vehicle to be approved.

What equipment do I need to build a Skoolie?

For the transformation of the bus into a viable home, several elements must be integrated into the interior of the vehicle. First of all, insulation is one of the essentials to achieve with the installation of a floor. Once this step is completed, you will have to think about the electrical and plumbing equipment. 

These require special knowledge and skills. It is strongly recommended to call in professionals. All the more so since it is essential that everything be up to standard if you want to have the bus approved as a specialized self-propelled vehicle with a GVWR of less than or equal to 3.5 tonnes.

Note that it is quite possible to have solar panels installed on the roof of the bus for your electricity supply. Once all these steps have been completed, you can start the procedure to have the bus approved as a motorhome, which is not an obligation even if strongly recommended.

It happens regularly to see advertisements for the sale of vehicles whose transformation is not completed. The project can turn out to be a money pit if any unforeseen events arise.

The steps to follow to approve a converted bus

Here is a concise summary of all the steps you will need to follow in order to have a converted bus approved in the US:

  1. Apply to the manufacturer for authorization to decommission the vehicle;
  2. Make a plan of the layout of the vehicle, noting everything that will be changed in the specifications;
  3. Carry out work on the bus to standards by following the steps of approval;
  4. Present the vehicle to an approved inspection body: they will check all gas-related installations, electrical installations, ventilation, and heating in order to obtain the certificate required for the file;
  5. Weigh the vehicle with all the fittings, the water tanks, the full tank of diesel, the driver in 3 steps, the front axle, the rear axle, and both axles at the same time in order to obtain another certificate required for the file;
  6. Submit the complete file to the prefecture, attach all the documents and wait to be summoned by the mining department. The mining engineer performs several checks, then declares the vehicle compliant with a report. This report is itself transmitted to the Prefecture;
  7. Apply for a vehicle registration certificate for the approved vehicle.

Advantages and disadvantages of building a Skoolie

Having a bus rather than a campervan can have many advantages. The space inside this vehicle is much larger and therefore comfortable than a van-style vehicle. The layout possibilities are therefore greater and are like a real studio of around thirty square meters. 

Of course, you have to consider the advantages, but also the disadvantages of converting a converted bus. Bus legislation obliges the driver to hold a special license in order to drive it legally. It is also necessary to take into account the many hours of work at the technical and administrative level that this requires. You do not embark on the adventure without having first acquainted yourself with all the legal and mandatory aspects.

This is why it happens regularly to see advertisements for the sale of buses or vans whose transformation has not been completed. The project to transform a bus into a motorhome can prove to be a financial hole with its share of unforeseen circumstances. Spare parts on these heavy-duty style vehicles are sometimes scarce, therefore expensive and in some cases very difficult to find due to the age of the vehicles.

How much does it cost to build a Skoolie?

A new school bus costs around $ 110,000. Twelve years after its date of manufacture, regardless of its mileage and years of service, the bus can no longer be used for the school network. At that point, its price drops drastically, but the market also becomes very small. 

They are sold in certain tourist countries or even to farmers who buy them to transport workers to the fields. Others will rot in the junkyard and a small percentage will be bought by individuals who will process them for personal use. 

The best time to buy a school bus is in June, as 12-year-old models retire from work. They usually have around 200,000 miles on the clock, but that’s very little for a mechanic that can do a million miles.

Final thoughts

For all those who are passionate about travel, a Skoolie offers a way to always be on the go without sacrificing the comforts that a home offers. School buses are also a blank canvas – once the seats are removed the possibilities are endless. The design will depend on the number of people that will be accommodated on the bus, as well as their lifestyle and needs.

Would you dare to build a Skoolie? If you have any questions, comments or tips on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on How long does it take to build a Skoolie?

Are Skoolies worth it?

For many people, Skoolies are totally worth it. A Skoolie offers a way to always be on the go without sacrificing the comforts that a home offers. School buses are also a blank canvas – once the seats are removed the possibilities are endless. The design will depend on the number of people that will be accommodated on the bus, as well as their lifestyle and needs.

Is a Skoolie considered an RV?

Yes, A Skoolie is considered an RV. They have become popular recently and are nothing more than converted school buses. They are spacious and offer plenty of room to decorate and furnish as you may please. 

Are Skoolies safe?

Compared to other RVs and vehicles, yes, Skoolies are safe on the road. The school bus is a heavy vehicle with superior construction. Its robust construction, it’s simple and accessible mechanics make it a very reliable vehicle. An abundance of used parts, at affordable prices, is available to bus owners. 

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